When 2017 began, the lesson I took with me from 2016 was to accept challenges. I would not have thought at the end of it I would write a post about any of these lessons. Sometimes I feel that many years have passed this year. Maybe because I’ve done so many things, maybe because I got out of the comfort zone more than ever. I really don’t know. But I did learn some very important lessons which I would like to share.
Lesson 1. Visualise your end goals
This lesson taught me to picture myself at the end. At the beginning of the year, I spent some time thinking and viewing where I would like to go and how will I feel at the end of 2017. Truth is the feeling I then imagined is now a reality. I have accomplished so many milestones this year and conquered fears I wouldn’t thought I would be able to, like the ability to speak in public.
Lesson 2. Overnight succes takes time
This lesson I learned standing in front of an audience, presenting. Right there, with so many eyes on me, I realised how the many hours of rehearsal I have done finally paid off. It baffles me every time I hear someone that says something like “guarantee me I will be successful”. And there are many people seeking for that 5 step recipe. Nobody is (that) willing to put in hours of (unrewarded) work to get where we all want to be: in the top. Every person you consider successful has many working hours under their belt to master their craft. The examples that come to my mind are Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. I am very sure they did not watch too much television waiting for a miracle to happen and change the world.
However, it is a pretty popular to say people we’re lucky. This year has shown me luck must find you working.
Lesson 3. Be persistent
This lesson is one I could not stress enough. If you want something, work for achieving it without giving up. Without persistence, our world would be very different. Do not be afraid of your voice, your work and take what you feel is right for you. And above all, stop listening to haters. Which gets me to the next lesson…
Lesson 4. Stop comparing your self and your work with others’
This lesson is pretty straight forward: I lose precious energy if I compare myself with other people. The Romanian education system puts a lot of accent on comparison and short term memory. For every one trying to work and do something meaningful, the first step is to stop thinking about other people’s opinions and how that affects your work.
Listening to your true calling is true, not their comments. If people would have stopped because they listened for whatever reason to someone else’s opinion regarding their work, we would be a planet full of sheep. Thankfully, we have lions around us too.
Lesson 5. Disappointment is a good feeling after all
Lesson no. 5 is about emotions. Emotions are good in general. But it is our duty as creators to not be influenced by them. Both positive and negative emotions are heavy influencers of our daily actions. The best way to make decisions is to have a rested and calm mind.
To feel disappointment is good, it can lead to some incredible turnarounds. Therefore, feelings ‘must be used’ carefully.
Lesson 6. The likes on social media are not customers
That is one hard lesson of this year. The number of likes on Facebook, or whatever social media you are using for your business, are not paying customers. They are merely fans of your business, they are good to spread the word about the business, but they will not pay for the service you are offering. For a business to survive you need paying customers as much as you need fans.
Lesson 7. To lie is polite (sometimes)
This lesson was another hard one after realising it. I felt cheated, but I managed to get over it. Reading a few lines from ‘The Mom Test‘ book I realised how wrong I was in my business approach. I was shocked to think about how many times I was lied when I talked about my business. On a second thought, yes, it is polite to lie. We all do it sometimes. It is polite to encourage people to pursue their dreams, even if it sounds crazy and you wouldn’t use it ever.
Lesson 8. Reading is not enough anymore
With so many people recommending books, this lesson taught me that reading is not enough anymore. You must put a little effort in understanding the book, taking what you need from it and apply it to your life, business etc. My new way of reading a book, even if takes twice the time to read it, is by taking notes. Since I borrow books from the library, I have a notebook where I write what I find interesting or need to remember for other times. I don’t like writing on the edge of the page. Regardless of the gender of the book, I take notes, as my strong belief is you can learn something from anything.
Lesson 9. New experiences are a better teacher
Actually living a new situation is 1000 times more valuable than reading about it or listening to someone else’s experiences. It is uncomfortable, I know, but it’s worth it. Anything out of your comfort zone is expanding your universe. And if you have many new experiences, you will know how to face new situations.
I could read a thousand articles about public speaking and learn nothing. I could jump on the stage and learn a thousand tips & tricks by acting. Of course, rehearsal is important too.
Lesson 10. Time is a very scarce resource
Time is the only resource we have that we cannot get back once gone. We have only 24 hours a day and it is our duty to focus as much as we can in the present moment and give our best: to our family, to our business and whatever is important to you.
Lesson 11. The quality of people you surround yourself with must be very high
If you want to succeed in any adventure you are taking, you should surround yourself with quality people. And by that I mean people who think as big as you are, people who inspire you to be great and leave something extraordinary behind. If you don’t strive for extraordinary you will land on the mediocre class. I am certain nobody wants to be just good enough.
Lesson 12. Balance is key to health and sanity
Balance between work and relaxing should be mandatory. You cannot work 24 hours straight, 7 days a week. Disconnection from any electronics should be a must to regain clarity over the situation. Sometimes it is hard, indeed, to stop and do something else. But I cannot think of another way of gaining a fresh perspective.
Lesson 13. Never stop learning something new
This lesson is about being open. With so many subjects around and so many problems to be solved, we cannot afford to be bored. We live in a world that faces so many challenges right now, we should be open enough to discover solutions. Questions like ‘are there aliens?’ or ‘how can we cure X disease?’ or whatever preoccupies your thoughts should spark an interest in studying. This lesson should be incorporated in our educational systems as well, to spark interest in children to pursue dreams they never thought of.
Lesson 14. ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’
If you’re curious, you cannot be bored. There is always something fun to discover, to learn about, and who knows, that new thingy you just discovered might be your next hobby or next business. I chose to quote Steve Jobs here because it perfectly summarises a life philosophy: to be always a beginner.
Lesson 15. Accepting what happens and not reacting on first impulse
Reaction on first impulse is never a good idea. Those actions might be drastic and almost certainly you will regret it. By accepting what happens and try figuring out a solution starting from that point forward is a major change of mindset.
Lesson 16. Keep calm and carry on
Controlling your emotions is very important in any situation. You can be relaxed and calm and see everything from a different angle. Being too involved means almost always you need to take a step back and analyse what is to be done.
17. Laughter is so important anyday
A day without laughter is a day wasted. I learned it is important to stay optimistic and have fun. Life is too short to be so worried, to complain that much everyday that you lose sight of what’s important.
What’s next? I don’t know, but I am looking forward to learning new amazing lessons.
So, 2018, bring it on!